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Update for April 14 – April 20, 2008

Go directly to: News & Views | Coming Soon | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions | Park Hours/Park Events/Entertainment Schedule

News and Views

Free dining | Toy Story Mania | "Line rage" verdict | Dream CMO finals | Race for the Taste | A personal appeal | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Walt Disney World announces free dining plan for late summer

As predicted last week, Walt Disney World announced a free dining plan for late summer, though not nearly as long a period as Universal's, and—as promised—I posted the codes in my blog as soon as the codes were confirmed for Disney Visa card holders, whose program was announced on Monday, as well as for the general public, which was announced on Thursday.


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Both free dining plans are the same; the only difference was the start date for booking the package. The packages are good for most nights Sunday, August 24 through Saturday, September 20, and must be booked by Sunday, June 22. You can book packages or a minimum of three nights and a maximum of 14 nights. Availability is limited and certain restrictions apply.

Existing reservations may be modified to include the free dining package if available. The deal is not only for a free standard dining plan, though. You can upgrade to the Deluxe Dining Plan and/or the Wine & Dine option and get a credit equal to the cost of the standard dining plan ($37.99 for ages 10 and up, $9.99 for ages 3-9) off of the enhanced plan.

For the Disney Visa package (reservation deposit must be made with a Disney Visa card), use the following codes:

  • CMK – Magic Your Way Package plus Dining
  • CMM – Magic Your Way Package plus Wine & Dine
  • CMP – Magic Your Way Package plus Deluxe Dining
  • CMS – Magic Your Way Package plus Deluxe Dining with Wine & Dine

Booking codes for the general public are:

  • AYG – Magic Your Way Package plus Dining
  • AYH – Magic Your Way Package plus Wine & Dine
  • AYI – Magic Your Way Package plus Deluxe Dining
  • AYJ – Magic Your Way Package plus Deluxe Dining with Wine & Dine

Thanks to Sue Pisaturo of MousePlanet sponsor Small World Vacations for the info.

Passholder preview announced for Toy Story Mania

If you're an Annual or Seasonal Passholder and will be at Walt Disney World Saturday, May 10 through Monday, May 12, you'll get a chance to take a sneak peek at Toy Story Mania at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The preview runs from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.

It appears that this sneak peek is for passholders only, and not their guests. A valid pass will be required for admission to the attraction.

The attraction, which provides a 4-D shoot-em-up experience, puts you in the middle of a series of carnival midway-style games, hosted by various Toy Story characters. Using the spring-action shooter, you launch varying types of ammunition at the different targets in each room.

Guests must be able to transfer from motorized scooters or ECVs to available wheelchairs to be able to board the back-to-back four-seat ride vehicles. Each pair of seats will see the same targets on different sides of each room. Child swap is available for those with small children. Handheld captioning is available for those who need it, though you'll need to visit guest relations to obtain a device.

Get your MousePlanet gear!

The MousePlanet.com store is now open for business (link)! You can get shirts, mugs, hats and even a Teddy Bear! Check it out and show your MousePlanet pride!

"Tempest in a teacup"; woman convicted of battery in "line rage" case

Last Friday, a 51-year-old Alabama woman was convicted of battery on a 35-year-old Florida woman while they were boarding the Mad Tea Party attraction in May 2007. The jury deliberated about 90 minutes before delivering the guilty verdict. Victoria Walker of Anniston, Alabama faces up to one year in prison when she is sentenced April 23 for her attack on Aimee Krause, of Clermont, Florida.

Walker, who was traveling with a church group last May 27, was reportedly upset about the way in which guests in line were moved into the final corral before entry to the attraction, feeling that she and the children that she was accompanying were put further from the entry gate than others who had been standing behind them in line. She exchanged words with Krause, who was with her own children and the children of a friend, while waiting in line.

Then, after they loaded their respective groups of children into teacups, Walker then reportedly grabbed Krause by the hair and began beating her with her purse before slamming her head into a teacup and beating her with her fists. Walker was reportedly pulled off of Krause by a member of her church. During the trial, Walker claimed that she was acting in self-defense, despite the testimony of several parents and children to the contrary. Krause claims to have sustained brain damage, seizures, a slipped disk and vision loss from the attack.

Walker was convicted of a single count of battery. She had faced charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and causing great bodily harm, as well as an additional charge of battery for pushing Krause's 7-year-old daughter. If convicted of all charges, Walker would have faced up to 16 years in prison.

It should be noted that the incident happened at 9:30 p.m., when there was still an hour and a half before the park closed the night before Memorial Day. The evening's showing of Wishes was still a half-hour away, with another showing of SpectroMagic at the park's closing time. All of those involved were in the boarding corral, and all were able to secure teacups to sit in. There was no apparent benefit to getting through the entry gate first.

Editorial comment: While it shouldn't be necessary to remind anyone, perhaps in light of this incident it wouldn't hurt to say it, anyway. Folks, they're attractions at a theme park. If you miss a particular chance to get on it, you'll get on the next time. If you're so focused on doing one particular thing at a specific instant, perhaps you're not in the right frame of mind to be enjoying the park in the first place. Relax, take a deep breath, put a smile on your face, and calm down. Your experience will be much more enjoyable than if you manage to force yourself into getting on one cycle earlier.

Dream CMO finalists face showdown this week; voting opens today

The final battle for the position of Disney's Chief Magic Official is now underway. The three finalists head to Walt Disney World later this week for the final competitions on Thursday and Friday, including rearranging strollers in the Magic Kingdom, folding towel animals, getting crowds to make noise along Main Street, U.S.A., working guest service at the Epcot Tip Board and trying to do a face painting at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The winner will be announced next Tuesday in front of Cinderella Castle.

Along with David Hawley and radio DJ Tripp West, MousePlanet reader and MousePad discussion forum member Justin Muchoney has been voted a finalist. It's a good bet that West is going to be mobilizing his listener base to vote for him, so let's leverage the power of MousePlanet to support Justin! The polls open today, and will run through midnight next Monday night. So vote early, and vote often for Justin Muchoney and support the MousePlanet family! After all, his possivisionouraging outlook is contagious!

Registration open for Race for the Taste

If you want to run around Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, and Epcot, then feast on International cuisine, then it must be time to register for Disney's Race for the Taste 10K, held in conjunction with the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

The ninth annual race, held Sunday, October 12, starts at 7 a.m. (buses from Epcot will run from 5:15 a.m. to 6:15 a.m., at which time road closures will begin).    Participants must be able to keep a 15-minute-per-mile race, meaning that all participants should be finished with the 6.2 mile course by 8:33 a.m., before Epcot opens to the public.

Runners who register before September 1 receive a personalized bib, while all participants also receive a chef's hat-shaped Race for the Taste 10K Finisher medal, a collectible pint glass, a goody bag, and access to the post-race picnic. Race-only registration is $45; race registration that includes a Disney theme park ticket is $73. Participants and spectators can bring non-perishable food items to the event for donation to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

The picnic features the awards ceremony, kids' races, Disney entertainment and characters, music, face painters, and more. For the first time, runners can purchase tickets for friends and family to join them at the post-race picnic. Tickets cost $20 for those 10, and include a visit to three taste stations from the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, a cold beverage, and a goody bag and the collectible Race for the Taste 10K pint glass.  The $15 ticket for kids ages 3-9 includes everything but the p. 

Kids' races include a Heelys "race and roll" 200-meter event for kids ages 8-14, as well as 100-, 200-, 400- and 800-meter races for kids ages 1-3, 4-6, 7-9 and 9-11, respectively.

Help us keep our menu listings up to date!

Did you know that MousePlanet now has menu listings (link) for all theme park restaurants at Walt Disney World and many resort restaurants? You can help us keep them up to date! Send your photos, scans or other copies of restaurant menus (no fair copying from other Web sites) to menus@mouseplanet.com (link). Please note that there is a 5 MB limit on total attachments in a single email.

A personal appeal, for the third year

On April 27, I'll be walking to raise money for the March of Dimes again. The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Without therapies, medications and treatment regimens developed under grants from the March of Dimes, my son would not be alive today. So, you see, this is a very personal cause for me. I want to help the March of Dimes in order to help the next baby that's born too soon.

Last year, through the generosity of friends, family, co-workers and MousePlanet readers, we managed to raise $4,025. This year, let's beat that. Let's see if we can raise $5,000. I think we can. For more information, or to donate, go here.

Construction update

This week's listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last two weeks:

 

  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – Replace section of fence around Echo Lake - area nearest the corner of Hollywood & Vine, from Min 'n' Bill's around to near Dinosaur Gertie's.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – Install vending machines, shrouds and power at two locations at the Lights Motors Action attraction at Disney Hollywood Studios. One shroud will be placed up against a building at the end of the queue and the other will be located in a planter across from the restrooms.
  • Disney Hollywood Studios – Fantasmic - Provide new wall & door, remove overhead door & infill.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – Construct Block Party Bash shade structure backstage.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom – Kali River Rapids - Furnish and install two 8' diameter carbon steel filters to replace existing composite filters.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace – provide a new foundation slab for Visa Rewards kiosk.
  • Downtown Disney – Fabrication and installation of fabric awnings.
  • Beach Club Resort – security kiosk at entrance - HVAC upgrade.
  • Yacht Club Resort – security kiosk at entrance - HVAC upgrade.

Quick takes …

…Registration is now at 80% of capacity for both the 2008 Go Red for Women 5K and the 2008 Disney's Women Run the World 15K. The 2009 Walt Disney World Marathon is now 55% full.

…Disney Parks & Resorts has worked with the Travel Channel to produce seven one-hour episodes of "Season of Disney", which will feature Samantha Brown and Jeff Corwin showing their favorite things about Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and the Disney Cruise Line. The combination of new and repurposed old shows airs every Friday night from April 4 through May 16. There's also special bonus content on the Travel Channel web site.

…Disney’s Costuming & Cosmetology Design Team recently won two 2008 North American Uniform Manufacturers and Distributors (NAUMD) Image of the Year awards in the Hotel and Entertainment categories. The awards were presented for costumes created for the front desk at the Fort Wildness Resort & Campground and for Rix Lounge at the Coronado Springs Resort.

…Disney senior vice president of conservation and environmental sustainability Jerry Montgomery has been appointed by Florida Governor Charlie Crist to the board of the South Florida Water Management District. The District reviews all development plans that would affect the water systems in South and Central Florida, including those filed by Walt Disney World.

…Orlando International Airport has moved up past Detroit and Minneapolis/St. Paul to become the 11th busiest passenger airport in the U.S. in 2007, according to preliminary statistics from Airports Council International. It moved up one spot on the international list, to 21st.

…WFTV is reporting that a family is suing Walt Disney World after their 15-year-old daughter suffered some cuts and bruises while riding the Crush 'n' Gusher at Typhoon Lagoon. The family claims that the girl's doctors are concerned that she may have internal injuries, sustained when the water surge flipped her raft upside down and rolled her around down the slide. The family claims that they just want her medical bills taken care of.


Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. E-mail Mark here.
Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.

Coming soon

  • March 19 – June 1. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. [See our Park Guide Page.]
  • April 11, 16, 23, May 2, 9, 16, 21, 26, 31, June 4. Mickey's Pirate & Princess Party.
  • Apr. 18, 19, 25, 26. Disney Grad Nite.
  • April 26–27. USASF Cheerleading & Dance Worlds.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

Epcot

  • Illuminations – the LED globe is scheduled to be removed from the show for a major refurbishment, possibly in early summer. The length of the refurbishment is not known. The show was tested without the globe on February 27.
  • Tutto Italia Ristorante – is now open, but will close in the spring to be completely remodeled, and will reopen in the fall under yet another new name.
  • The Wonders of Life pavilion – has again closed as such, and most likely will only be used as a Festival Center until a new sponsor is found.
  • Nine Dragons – closes May 29 – November 30 for renovations that include the creation of an exhibition kitchen.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Journey Into Narnia: Creating The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – closed for refurbishment and likely conversion to a Prince Caspian theme, January 2 – May 23.
  • Mickey Avenue – closed through spring for installation of the Toy Story Mania attraction and related theming.
  • The American Film Institute Showcase – closed for refurbishment April 1 – May 1.
  • "American Idol" – under construction in the soundstage that formerly hosted Superstar Television and Doug Live!. Scheduled to open in late 2008.

Animal Kingdom

  • No known current refurbishments.

Resorts

  • Animal Kingdom Lodge – Construction of the Kidani Village annex building for the Disney Vacation Club's Animal Kingdom Villas is expected to take until spring 2009. Jambo House construction is now complete.
  • Beach Club Resort – the quiet pool will be closed from March 31 – April 11.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort – Feature pool closed for renovation January 7–mid-September. Temporary "child-sized" slides will be added to the quiet pools in the Jamaica and Barbados Villages while the main pool is closed.
  • Coronado Springs Resort – One side of the Jaguar slide at the main feature pool will be closed for rehab March 31 – April 30. The pool will remain open during the work.
  • Yacht Club Resort – the quiet pool will be closed April 14–21.

Water Parks

  • No known current refurbishments.

Elsewhere

  • Cap'n Jack's Restaurant – closed for refurbishment May 12–17.
  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays.
  • T-Rex Cafe – reportedly opens in Downtown Disney in late 2008.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Orlando Fun Tickets offering 5 days for the price of 3

For a limited time, MousePlanet discount ticket partner Orlando Fun Tickets is currently offering a free upgrade to a 5-day Park Hopper pass when you purchase a 3-day Park Hopper. Check out the special offer or any of the other great prices on tickets at OrlandoFunTickets.com!

Passholder discounts announced, Disney Dining Plan available

Annual Passholder and Florida Resident discounts have been announced for March through May. From March 30 through May 21, room-only discount rates are available, with Passholder rates being anywhere from $5 to $15 less than Florida resident rates. Passholders should use code FJC or FJD for Sunday-Thursday nights, while Florida residents should use FJK. The Passholder weekend rate code during that period is FJG.

In addition, the Disney Dining Plan will now be available to Annual Passholders, even on room-only reservations. To add the Dining Plan during the March 30 through May 21 AP discount period, Passholders should use code ANA, and the Deluxe Dining Plan requires code ANC. For other dates that do not have an effective Passholder discount, reservations for the Dining Plan should use code ADS and for the Deluxe Dining Plan should use code ADU.

Spring discounts announced

A second round of spring discounts have been announced, with a room-only discount among the options this time. The discounts, for travel dates of April 20 through May 21, can be booked from now through April 19. Deluxe resorts have a better discount, but availability is limited.

For Magic Your Way packages without the Dining Plan, use code AXQ. Magic Your Way with the Dining Plan is code AXR. Magic Your Way with the Deluxe Dining Plan is code AXT. To get the room-only discount, use code CMB.

Free dining for late summer

Free dining plans are available for Disney Visa cardholders and the general public. The plans are the same; the only difference was the start date for booking the package. The packages are good for most nights August 24 through September 20, and must be booked by June 22. Packages may be booked for a minimum of three nights and a maximum of 14 nights. Availability is limited and certain restrictions apply.

Existing reservations may be modified to include the free dining package if available. The deal is not only for a free standard dining plan, though. You can upgrade to the Deluxe Dining Plan and/or the Wine & Dine option and get a credit equal to the cost of the standard dining plan ($37.99 for ages 10 and up, $9.99 for ages 3-9) off of the enhanced plan.

For the Disney Visa package (reservation deposit must be made with a Disney Visa card), use the following codes:

  • CMK – Magic Your Way Package plus Dining
  • CMM – Magic Your Way Package plus Wine & Dine
  • CMP – Magic Your Way Package plus Deluxe Dining
  • CMS – Magic Your Way Package plus Deluxe Dining with Wine & Dine

Booking codes for the general public are:

  • AYG – Magic Your Way Package plus Dining
  • AYH – Magic Your Way Package plus Wine & Dine
  • AYI – Magic Your Way Package plus Deluxe Dining
  • AYJ – Magic Your Way Package plus Deluxe Dining with Wine & Dine

For ticket prices, park hours, and entertainment schedules, please go here.


Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. E-mail Mark here.

 



Talk about this article and more, on the MousePad community forums.


(Send an email to Mark Goldhaber)

Mark (@MPMark) is a veteran of dozens of trips to Walt Disney World starting in 1972, with a few Disneyland trips thrown in for good measure. As a Disney stockholder and a Disney Vacation Club member, Mark is always in touch with what's going on with The Mouse. Mark serves as MousePlanet's Walt Disney World content coordinator. Mark is a senior information technology manager working for the State of New York. He lives in the suburbs outside Albany, New York, with his wife and son.